Outdoor cat house FAQs
How should I clean my cat’s house?
Some store-bought cat houses feature roof panels that lift up, which allow you to access the interior for easy cleaning. Quand recommends avoiding using strong cleaners like bleach or ammonia, as these may be too strong for sensitive feline noses. Usually, gentle soap and water should do the trick, but you could also use your favorite pet-safe cleaning product.
What is the best size for an outdoor cat house?
The ideal size for your cat house will depend on your cat’s height and weight, as well as the number of cats you want to shelter. But according to Quandt, one cat typically needs around four to six square feet of space. “For reference, the area of a medium-sized dog crate per cat is about right,” he says. Your cats should have enough space to stand up and turn around, but not enough room to let their body heat escape. Keep in mind, too, that the smaller the house, the better it can retain heat.
Do outdoor cat houses need litter boxes?
In general, full-time outdoor or stray cats don’t use litter boxes like indoor cats do, so you don’t necessarily need to add one to your cat house. That said, a 2020 Japanese study found that when outdoor cats were provided with litter boxes, they used them exclusively within weeks. So, if you’re tired of finding cat “gifts” in your garden, setting up an outdoor litter box near your cat house could make both you and your kitties happy.
Do feral cats use outdoor cat houses?
Feral cats may turn to outdoor houses to seek shelter, especially in cold or harsh weather conditions. To provide shelter for feral cats, opt for an insulated cat house that will keep them warm and out of the elements. Feral cats may also prefer an elevated house, since a shelter raised off the ground will likely stay drier in wet weather.
What is the best way to heat an outdoor cat house?
If your cat house doesn’t already come with insulation, you can add Mylar, Styrofoam, and straw to provide extra warmth. With a little effort, you can also transform plastic storage bins and Styrofoam or insulated coolers into solid houses, Phillips says. For instructions on how to build a DIY cat house, check out Alley Cat Allies step-by-step guide.
How do outdoor cats stay warm in the winter?
Cats conserve body heat by curling up in tight, cozy spots that are safe from wind, rain, and snow. Many outdoor cats seek shelter somewhere elevated to take advantage of rising heat or find their way under the hood of a car to the still-warm engine. Others will huddle together with other cats to share body heat. Because cats burn through so much energy trying to stay warm, they also benefit from eating frequent large meals to make up that lost energy.
How do you shelter an outdoor cat?
You have several options for sheltering outdoor cats and feral cats in extreme weather. Ideally, you can offer cats access to a garage, barn, or shed that won’t become soggy in the elements. If the building has electricity, setting up a heated bed or heated cat house will help keep outdoor kitties warm. If you don’t have a space to welcome cold cats, set up a pre-made cat house or build your own with material that won’t leak. Make sure to insulate your structure and place it in a location as protected from the elements as possible. According to Wolko, you should never put blankets or towels in an outdoor cat shelter because they will trap moisture and may even freeze. Phillips recommends buying or making a shelter with only one entrance. A single entry prevents a wind tunnel from forming and helps retain more heat.
Do outdoor cats need a cat house?
If your cat spends time outside, they may appreciate a cat house as a safe place to relax or find shelter from the weather. Houses can help your cat stay warm in the winter and find shade in the summer. They also provide a dry place to nap on rainy or snowy days. In extra cold conditions, a heated shelter is better than an unheated shelter at preventing hypothermia. However, most cats in more moderate climates will do just fine with a well-insulated, waterproof cat house.
Are outdoor cat houses safe?
Generally speaking, cat houses are safe, but there’s always the chance a predator may get into the house while a kitty rests inside. Most commercially available cat houses have two exits so feline residents can easily escape if another animal comes calling. But Phillips warns that two doors also leave a shelter less protected from the elements. “Cats who are living outside are like raccoons. That’s their natural environment, that’s where they live, so as soon as they hear something, they are going to jet right out as fast as possible,” she says — even if they only have one door for them to escape from.
Where’s the best place to put an outdoor cat house?
The best place is always on private property, Phillips says. A cat house will offer the most protection to cats when placed under an overhang, inside of a shed or barn, or in a location where predators can’t go. Ninnemann says a fenced-in area may work best, and facing the opening against a wall may help your cat feel safer. If you have to place the shelter in a public area, Phillips recommends using a bike lock or other tether to prevent people from removing it. She also suggests attaching a laminated sign to the box to explain why it’s there.
What should I put inside an outdoor cat house?
“Materials like fabrics or cushions absorb moisture and can freeze, creating an ideal scenario for hypothermia,” Wolko says. For bedding that won’t retain moisture, use straw or wood chips. You can safely use electric pet heating pads in cat shelters near your home if you regularly monitor, clean, and dry them. Ninnemann says you can also place small amounts of cat food inside a cat house near your home to provide nutritional support for cats. Just avoid leaving out so much food that it attracts animals like raccoons.